TechNew vampire squid species discovered in south china sea depths

New vampire squid species discovered in south china sea depths

The depths of the sea, illustrative photo
The depths of the sea, illustrative photo
Images source: © pexel

8:13 PM EDT, July 9, 2024

Scientists from China have made a groundbreaking discovery. In the depths of the South China Sea, they found a mysterious creature that turned out to be a previously unknown cephalopod from the Vampyroteuthis family.

Creatures inhabiting the depths of the oceans come in various shapes and sizes, but until now, science has been aware of only one species of vampire squid. This species, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, was discovered by Carl Chun in 1903 and was mistakenly thought to be the sole representative of its kind.

A previously unknown vampire squid

A second representative, Vampyroteuthis pseudoinfernalis, has just joined it. It was found in the northwestern South China Sea at 2,600 to 3,300 feet. In these regions, sunlight does not reach, and plants are absent.

Chinese researchers emphasized that the newly discovered species differs from its "predecessor" in several ways. Unlike Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the new species has a tail, and its photophores—light-producing organs—are located in a different place on its body. Genetic research has determined that Vampyroteuthis pseudoinfernalis is a separate species.

Challenges in the proper classification of vampire squids

Interestingly, when Vampyroteuthis infernalis was discovered in 1903, it was mistakenly considered a species of octopus. Later, however, the animal was correctly classified within Vampyroteuthidae, the family of cephalopods in the order of vampire squids. The new species discovered by Chinese scientists was first thoroughly photographed, measured, and then subjected to DNA analysis for comparison with other known species.

Vampyroteuthis pseudoinfernalis
Vampyroteuthis pseudoinfernalis© biorxiv.org, Qiu, Liu & Huang

In their publication, the Chinese scientists thanked representatives from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), who provided digital images of Vampyroteuthis infernalis and assisted in the research.

They also added that vampire squids mainly feed on animal remains and so-called marine snow floating in the ocean waters. They grow up to about 12 inches in length.

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